Did you know that your gastrointestinal tract may contain as many as 100,000 billion bacteria?!
All those bacteria account for 1.5 kilos of your weight.
And, as studies have shown, bacteria’s role in your health goes far beyond digestion.
You may already know that there are differences between good bacteria and bad bacteria. However, you may not know that the balance between your good and bad bacteria is crucial to your overall health. As a matter of fact, too many bad bacteria have been linked to causing a number of diseases, including Type II diabetes.
Good vs. Bad Bacteria: You are what you eat…
Although this notion is difficult to accept at times, it is proving to be more and more truthful. Your digestive health determines how resistant (or susceptible) you are to most diseases, which all goes back to the balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines. And the balance of good and bad bacteria in your intestines relies heavily on what you eat.
Good bacteria help you digest food and absorb necessary nutrients while boosting your immune system. On the other hand, bad bacteria actually compete with your good bacteria for nutrients and compromise your health by interfering with good bacteria’s responsibilities. Therefore, those bad bacteria create ideal conditions for the development of disease.
What affects the balance between Good and Bad Bacteria?
A number of factors affect the bacterial balance in your digestive system. For instance, the overuse and abuse of many antibiotics has been attributed to destroying both good and bad bacteria, which instantly disturbs the balance. Meanwhile, certain foods favour the growth of bad bacteria over good bacteria, which also interrupts the balance.
Some examples of food that throws off your good and bad bacterial balance include: processed foods, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, and fruits or vegetables contaminated with herbicides and pesticides.
Again, you are what you eat—so eat healthily!
Just like there are foods that promote the growth of bad bacteria there are also foods that promote the growth of good bacteria. So here are seven easy ways to keep your gut bacteria in a good balance:
- Eat raw, crushed garlic to not only kill bad bacteria, but also leave your good bacteria in healthy condition and safe from harm. Add to salad dressings or with olive oil on steamed vegies.
- Take activated charcoal, which has been traditionally used to effectively remove pathogens from the digestive system.
- Avoid antibiotics that do not discriminate which bacteria they are destroying. This will protect your good bacteria from being eliminated.
- Incorporate prebiotics in your diet to promote a healthy environment in your intestines that is suitable for good bacteria, but harmful for bad bacteria. Prebiotic foods include familiar vegetables such as asparagus, garlic, leek, onion, and artichoke.
- Consume probiotics, such as yoghurt and sauerkraut, which introduce even more good bacteria to your intestines and decrease the supply of nutrients available to bad bacteria.
| Also read our article The Pros of Probiotics here
- Try anti-fungal herbs, like Oregano or Pau D’Arco, which detoxify the bacteria in your intestines as well as fight the overgrowth of yeast and other fungi.
- ‘Ask a Naturopath’ if your diet is conducive to providing healthy bacteria in your gut, and if not, how you can go about improving it!